Every now and then a night comes along in which the music is so enthralling, so superbly delivered, that a reviewer can set aside critical faculties and simply marvel at the sheer magic of artistry at work. The performance by the Stefon Harris and Jacky Terrasson Quartet at the Jazz Bakery on Tuesday was one of those nights.
It's rare when two of the brightest young stars in the jazz firmament can be seen on the same stage. Even rarer when they can link together in creatively compatible musical orbits.
This, even though Harris and Terrasson are propelled by somewhat differing improvisational styles. The former tends to play his vibes and marimba in a series of explosive improvisational bursts, interspersed with floating, meditative passages. Terrasson is a virtuosic wizard, comfortable at the most brutally rapid tempos, but he balances his technical flights with lush, sometimes astonishing harmonization.
Much of the material traced to their superb recent album, "Kindred." George Gershwin's "Summertime," a highlight from the CD, was here extended into an epic series of improvisations. Cole Porter's "What Is This Thing Called Love?" received similar treatment, often generating a titanic sense of swing, even when the only instruments playing were Harris' vibes and Terrasson's piano. (And it's worth noting here that bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Terreon Gully, both of whom performed on the album, provided exquisite support throughout the set.)